Container Baby Syndrome

Container baby syndrome is a collection of movement, behavior, and other problems caused by a baby or infant spending too much time in a container, any commonly-used piece of baby equipment that resembles a container. A “container baby” is a newborn baby or young infant who is placed in a container for an excessive amount of time in a given day. Containers include car seats, strollers, bumbo seats, bouncy swings, rockers, bouncer seats, nursing cushions, and vibrating chairs.

These forms of baby support and transportation are used to keep the baby safe from accidents, allow parents to more easily transport the baby, and give the baby play time. However, this equipment also acts as a container, immobilizing the baby in 1 position on the baby’s back. Spending a lot of time lying on the back in the container allows little to no movement of the baby's neck, spine, or body. While some parents believe that leaving the baby in the container or equipment is safer, more convenient, and enjoyable for the baby, this kind of immobilization can actually cause delayed development of common skills, like rolling, crawling, and walking. Staying in the container for a prolonged time and over days and weeks can even cause severe, possibly lifelong problems.

Container Baby Syndrome is 100% preventable! Expectant or new parents are strongly encouraged to follow these guidelines, and contact a physical therapist to learn specific preventive skills. You can protect your baby from developing CBS from day one! Here is how you can prevent container baby syndrome:

  • Limiting the baby’s time in containers, such as car seats and strollers, to only when the baby is actually being transported somewhere.
  • Increasing the time the baby lies on the tummy when awake (with adult supervision).
  • Holding the baby in their arms or a sling for short periods, instead of leaving the baby in a container.
  • Allowing the baby to play freely in a playpen.
  • Allowing the baby to frequently play on the floor on a blanket (with adult supervision).

-Matthew D’Antonio, PT, DPT

Pediatric Physical Therapist

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